Top 10 Mistakes of Strategic Planning
10. Not Having a Strategic Plan
Sadly, most A/E firms do not have the discipline to take several days every year to develop or update their strategic plan. If you have never participated in an effective strategic planning retreat, you might be tempted to dismiss the process as a waste of time. Or think it is something only of value to the "big boys."
If you think this way, you are wrong. An effective strategic planning retreat can be a transformational event. Strategic planning is important for every firm.
9. Using an In-House Facilitator
Many firms first try to use an in-house facilitator to lead the strategic planning process. This person they choose is usually the CEO. Using your CEO as the facilitator will lead to disappointing results at best. Most likely the CEO has no experience in being a facilitator and doesn't really understand the strategic planning process. Strategic planning participants will be reluctant to openly share their true feelings and ideas when the CEO takes on the facilitator role.
8. Having Too Many Attendees
As with most meetings the results you produce are inversely proportional to the number of attendees. Do your best to limit the participants to around 10 or so. You might hurt some feelings, but you will accomplish a lot more.
Lousy Goals = Lousy Results. Let me repeat that. Lousy Goals = Lousy Results.
-- Herb Cannon
7. Holding the Session In House
Do your best to hold the session away from the office. The temptations of taking that important phone call, interruptions by your staff and checking your e-mail are too much for most firms to overcome. You don't need to travel to a distant location, but try to do it away from the office. It will set the tone as something special and not business as usual.
6. Setting Your Goals Too Low
Lousy Goals = Lousy Results.
Let me repeat that. Lousy Goals = Lousy Results
Your goals need to be difficult but achievable. You will not inspire anyone with goals like increasing sales by 4% or increasing profits by 5%. Raise the bar of expectations and you have a much better chance of inspiring your staff and producing better results.
5. Believing That Tactics are Secondary to Strategy
Tactics are the actions and processes that you implement every day in order to achieve the goals laid out in your strategic plan. They are the basic things we do every day (or should do every day) that over the long run will help us achieve our goals.
Much has been written about strategy in recent years. It is certainly a more inspiring subject than tactics and a book on strategy will outsell a book on tactics every time. The fact of the matter is that a great strategy will go nowhere without good tactics.
Strategy is the Vision. Tactics are the Action
4. Too Much Documentation of the Plan
The quality of a strategic plan should not be judged on how much it weighs. There are certain consultants in this industry that produce 100 page strategic plans that are 90% boilerplate. I can only assume they charge by the pound.
The best strategic plans are short 15 to 20 page action oriented plans. The strategic plan is really a plan for action with deadlines and a plan for follow-up.
3. Mistaking the Strategic Plan for a Marketing Plan
Marketing is only one component of a strategic plan and in many cases it is the most important part of your plan. Other components include, project delivery, organizational structure, human resources, ownership transition and financial. Be sure to include these components when producing your plan.
2. Using the Wrong Outside Facilitator
If you have wisely decided to use an outside facilitator, please be sure to use someone who has an extensive background in the A/E Industry. Choose a facilitator that has run an A/E firm or has held a senior position at a larger firm. A person with this background has real hands on experience to draw upon. Don't settle for someone with an MBA that has never even worked in an A/E firm.
1. Not Following Through
A strategic plan that sits on the shelf gathering dust is of little value. You took the time to develop a plan, set goals, assigned responsibility for action now you must hold each other accountable for following through. Don't make it a stealth plan - share the non-confidential decisions with your employees. In order to maintain your focus, commit to reviewing the progress on a monthly basis.
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